Who exactly is this mythical ‘conscious entrepreneur’?
“You see my friends; the entrepreneur is not actually alienated from reality. The entrepreneur is not lost in a self-reference, cut off from the universe; actually we live in an entrepreneurial universe.
The nature of reality itself is entrepreneurial. Quarks, subatomic particles, seek connection with other particles to create a higher value proposition which is called Atoms. Atoms seek connection, interpenetration, relationship with other atoms to create a higher value proposition which is called molecules.” – Marc Gafni
Gafni makes a good point in his aptly-named article Conscious Entrepreneurship.
The faceless figure called the ‘entrepreneur’ is often seen (indeed by entrepreneurs themselves, according to Gafni) as a creative, narcissistic whirlwind of ideas, jumping around founding new initiatives.
And it is true that entrepreneurship is often glorified in capitalist society: it goes along with the creation of ideas, realization of individual aspirations, and making the climb to wealth and power through the free market.
But entrepreneurship is never an isolated event. At its heart lies a dynamic and continuous interaction with people, places, and capital, as a catalyzing force to make things happen. It doesn’t work to be a self-serving entrepreneur because no one lives in a vacuum.
You aren’t in a closed system where you can simply pour your hard work into your goals and reap the results without giving or needing a helping hand along the way. You combine resources and talents in innovative ways, giving freely of your time and skills.
That is why conscious entrepreneurship is not only the humanitarian way to approach entrepreneurship, it is also the most logical for your success.
What is conscious entrepreneurship?
“A conscious entrepreneur does business with their values and well-being at the forefront of everything”, says strategist Lisa Princic.
This means that you value yourself and you value others. Conscious entrepreneurship involves the courage to give, ask, and receive. You apply this to yourself and to others.
How then, does a conscious entrepreneur deal with the everyday challenges of taking care of his or herself to continue delivering value?
How a conscious entrepreneur treats herself
Not surprisingly, CEO Kelli Richards found out upon interviewing Steve Jobs that it wasn’t just his astounding talents that set him apart; it was the way he respected and sustained his brain consistently that allowed him to achieve success.
By committing to a balance of body, mind and spirit, that is how you respect yourself. Plus, when you optimize health, that in turn optimizes work performance. Sounds like common sense, but we have a ways to go in implementing it in the professional world.
How conscious entrepreneurs treat themselves:
- You prioritize your physical health. Give yourself sleep. Ariana Huffington credits her success and sharp mind to an adequate amount of sleep, while studies show that lack of sleep costs the U.S. market $63.2 billion in productivity each year.
- You prioritize your mental health. This means not just taking breaks when you need it, but feeding your mind with nourishing stimulation. Listen to music you love. Look at art that inspires you; read books that inspire you. Consume good healthy stuff, the veggies for your brain. Don’t consume mental junk food like social media and reality TV. Also allow time for your mind to empty, like a field lying fallow. Meditate to clear away the informational overload of the day and sharpen your focus.
- You prioritize your emotional health. Process, feel, and express your emotions in a healthy way. Learn to communicate, to navigate the dynamics of your family and work environments with empathy and clear-cut boundaries.
You show up with your full self at work, not just the brain.
The second piece of the equation of being a conscious entrepreneur is how you interact with others. Kindness and helping others should be a backbone of your business growth.
How a conscious entrepreneur treats others
A conscious entrepreneur knows that he is intrinsically linked to others. There is less emphasis on winning and losing, and relationships should be valued for what they are: as meaningful connections and vehicles for creating a shared vision together that is good for the world.
- A conscious entrepreneur thinks in a co-creative way, not in a self-serving way. This is not just to be ‘conscious’ but also because it builds longer-term partnerships founded on trust. Billionaire Li Ka-Shing swears on always leaving money on the table for the partner. That way, both parties win and you’ve established the base for a continuing relationship founded on trust and loyalty.
- And because the conscious entrepreneur is a good listener and a co-creator, she approaches leadership and management in this similar, open-minded and creative way. Considering the inputs of invested employees and co-workers is not ‘being soft’. Rather, it is the opposite. It is strong, recognizing that to be adaptable, flexible, and open to the next great idea, one has to consider the perspectives of all voices that make up the system.
- At the same time, the conscious entrepreneur presents a clear vision for the evolution of the organization and community.
- A conscious entrepreneur lets the spirit of generosity permeate out into other areas of life. A conscious entrepreneur uses the entrepreneurial superpower of seeing opportunities in every situation to see where he could do some good: one good deed a day; giving more than you need.
A conscious entrepreneur is aware of the effect her business has on the immediate community, the industry, society, and world. There are many dimensions of this, such as: How does this work environment impact the people that spend 40 hours a week here? How will this affect their lives at home? How will this affect the environment? How does what we do contribute to making life better for people, and how can we optimize this?
And quintessentially, am I being a genuinely good human doing what I am doing?
However we define conscious entrepreneurship to be, it is above all a creative vehicle for the new era of sustainability and solidarity.
(See startups by our alumni here)